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STRANGERS IN A FOREIGN LAND
Immigrating To A New Hope

A Commentary by Constance Vanides

A personal story of God leading two strangers into a foreign land to find each other, marry, birth and raise four daughters, becoming citizens in the country which sheltered and gave them opportunities and hope for themselves and their descendants as well…

    “…Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)

They met through mutual friends in the country of their immigration. Papa, a young man in his twenties had come to America for the better life as so many were seeking in the early 1900s.

    “The LORD watches over the strangers…” (Psalm 146:9a)

The Great Immigration, following quota rules and regulations, unloaded boatloads of peoples from various nations whose lives had become so unbearable in their “old country” onto the shores of New York City through Ellis Island. There they were checked, and physically examined for illnesses. There they met or contacted the relative or friend who had sponsored them into the country.

    “How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4)

Once settled into the community where the promise of a job awaited him, Papa lived with the brother who “brought him over”. They learned to speak English in order to work at any menial job available at the time. These new immigrants gathered together with like-speaking people to support their social needs, and established traditional churches for spiritual sustenance.

    “Take wives and beget sons and daughters…” (Jeremiah 29:6)

Papa yearned for a wife, but not any woman would do. She needed to be a special love, one who was physically attractive, shared the same culture, and who herself was looking for a man to wed with whom they would become one forever in their common faith.

    “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Papa’s prayers were answered when the boatload of immigrant girls arrived from his native country! Relatives and friends of friends welcomed the girls who were immediately introduced into existing communities. Papa spied the one meant for him!

    “Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Their love found expression in tender poems and notes written to each other and hidden between ill-fitting bricks in the city’s rundown alleyway. To the young lovers, that outwardly drab and dismal place became one of such beauty and hope! Each written epistle stirred their hearts with the promise of new life.

    “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

Each had left father and mother behind. They were ready to begin their life together, start their own family, and fully integrate as vital citizens of their new country.

    “…for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28)

A century has passed since then, yet the values they lived by have carried through to their children; their children’s children; children’s children’s children and children’s children’s children’s children!

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© Constance Vanides